Update: This story was updated at 7 p.m. to include comments from the Yorktown School District.
YORKTOWN, N.Y. – A 14-year-old Yorktown High School student and her mother have filed a lawsuit against the Yorktown Central School District for what they say is an unfair suspension relating to marijuana possession.
According to the lawsuit, the freshman – referred to as “A.S.” – was in possession of a marijuana cigarette on Dec. 21, 2012, during a “movie night” at the school. The student said she did not smoke or have any intention of smoking the joint, which she allegedly gave to another student, referred to as "Jane Smith."
About two weeks later, the student and her mother were brought into the assistant principal's office and told she would be suspended for five days and would have to complete three counseling sessions with a school therapist.
When the suspension was over on Jan. 9, “A.S.” was subject to a disciplinary hearing to determine if additional action was needed. The district allegedly decided to suspend her for a year, but said she would be eligible to return to school on probationary basis after three months.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 29, claims the student’s Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when the district imposed the suspension because it was her first offense.
“The disciplinary actions imposed by Defendants, violated Plaintiffs’ substantive due process right, in that it was arbitrary and capricious, and failed to adhere to standards of fundamental fairness, as the disciplinary action imposed was not appropriate to the serious nature of the offense and did not consider the absence of any previous disciplinary records,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also alleges that "A.S.," a Russian immigrant, was treated differently because of her origin, denied a right to free education, "coerced" into an unfair hearing and had her privacy violated when an assistant principal failed to close a door when discussing the issue.
The student is seeking “damages for emotional distress, current and future medical and related counseling bills, current and future educational related expenses, punitive damages, costs and attorneys’ fees." The amounts would be determined by a trial.
The lawsuit also requests that the school district expunge her records and allow her to return to Yorktown High School.
Kari Wheeler, Media Manager with the Yorktown Central School District, said "District officials are unable to comment due to legal and privacy issues."
The lawsuit (attached below) was filed in federal court for the Southern District of New York in White Plains.
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